What On Earth Is Instagram Reels, And How Do You Actually Use It?

A user-friendly guide to the new version of TikTok that’s about to take over your explore page.

Instagram Reels

by Phoebe Parke |
Published on

As the world went into lockdown to stop the spread of Covid-19, most of us found ourselves at home with an unprecedented amount of free time. And so it’s no wonder baking banana bread, Instagram Live work outs and the fun-loving videos of TikTok became hugely popular. With celebs such as Lizzo, Reese Witherspoon and Cameron Diaz having a go at TikTok, it’s become a powerful platform not just for celebrities but for social change too.

Now, Instagram wants it’s slice of the lip-syncing, dancing, meme-making pie and has launched Reels, which you’ve probably already seen all over your Instagram app.

So what is Reels?

Reels is Instagram’s version of TikTok – 15 second videos you edit and create in the app.

How do you get Instagram Reels?

Reels can be found in the Instagram app. Go onto someone’s profile (use @evachen212’s as an example as she has uploaded some Reels) and under their highlights you’ll see their feed icon, then a video icon with a play button in the middle – that’s where all her Reels are saved.

You can also see Reels on people’s feeds, they will appear as normal videos but have the Reels icon on them. Plus pretty soon your explore page will be full of them as Instagram pushes their new launch in an attempt to get everyone to use it.

How do you remove Instagram Reels?

Unfortunately if you don't want to see Reels there's no way of removing them, as it's all in the Instagram app. But my suggestion would be unfollowing people who are posting Reels and maybe avoid the explore page for a while as Instagram is pushing them heavily there!

How do you make your own Reels?

It’s easy but it takes a bit of practice, especially if you’ve never used TikTok before. Go to your Instagram Stories camera menu and scroll along to the Reels option as opposed to the usual ‘story’ mode.

First pick your audio and then choose the speed of your video by pressing the play icon on the left-hand side menu. If you set a timer you’ll have a few seconds to get ready to film and move away from the phone. You can use filters as you would with a normal Instagram Story by selecting the ‘effects’ button also on the menu on the left-hand side.

Then hold down the record button to capture footage, and you can stop recording multiple times during the 15 seconds to create a video with multiple parts to it. You can then add text and stickers as you can with a normal Instagram Story.

Ready to upload? You can change the cover image and then share the Reel to your Stories, Explore Feed, and the Reels tab on your profile.

READ MORE: 15 Instagram Accounts To Follow That Will Make You Feel Good


15 Instagram Accounts To Follow That Will Make You Feel Good

Who to follow on Instagram1 of 15
CREDIT: @schoolofsos


Bonnie Parsons' SOS dance school has always been about empowering women to feel strong and sexy with step-by-step routines to feelgood hits, and now they're offering free classes every day on Instagram Live. Try feeling down when you're flicking your hair along to Beyoncé – it's impossible.

Who to follow on Instagram2 of 15
CREDIT: @JasmineHemsley


From bliss-inducing sound baths on Instagram Live (if you haven't tried it, do, it's peak ASMR), to #SundaySlow conversations with techniques to ease anxiety or increase creativity, Jasmine Hemsley is really dedicating her lockdown experience to helping us feel better.

Who to follow on Instagram3 of 15
CREDIT: @studio_lennartsendebruijn


Dutch design studio Lennarts & De Bruijn's feed is a riot of joyous colour all in the name of their brilliant #staysanestaysafe campaign, intended to celebrate those on the frontline while inspiring those of us staying at home to get creative.

Who to follow on Instagram4 of 15
CREDIT: @GoodGym


Good Gym is a community of runners that get fit by doing good, and they have pivoted to focus on the Covid-19 effort, with members dropping off food packages and providing support for healthcare services in partnership with the Red Cross.

Who to follow on Instagram5 of 15
CREDIT: @DaisyMayCooper


This Country star Daisy May Cooper has discovered TikTok, to the endless delight of her followers.

Who to follow on Instagram6 of 15
CREDIT: @ArtistSupportPledge


Created by artist Matthew Burrows, the Artist Support Pledge is designed to help fellow artists who have found themselves without work and gallery support. Artists post images of pieces that they are willing to sell for no more than £200 each and pledge that, when they reach £1000 of sales, they will buy another artist's work for £200.

Who to follow on Instagram7 of 15
CREDIT: @StaceySolomon


Everyone's favourite Loose Woman, Stacey Solomon, has forged a successful side-line in making women feel better about themselves with a hearty dollop of Dagenham charm.

Who to follow on Instagram8 of 15
CREDIT: @blkmktvintage


A gorgeous photo series called We Been Inside, featuring archival images of iconic and little-known black creatives at home. It will inspire you to revisit the music, books and films of some of the greats.

Who to follow on Instagram9 of 15
CREDIT: @animalsdoingthings


Silly, adorable and just what we need right now: Animals Doing Things does exactly what it says on the tin.

Who to follow on Instagram10 of 15
CREDIT: @thismumruns


Mel Bound used her skills from running This Mum Runs to start a C19 Aid Group in Bristol. In 72 hours they grew to 5,000 members on Facebook, and are now deployed supporting those at risk by delivering medicine and groceries.

Who to follow on Instagram11 of 15
CREDIT: @pressuredropbrw


Tottenham craft brewery Pressure Drop's Pay It Forward scheme supports local businesses. For every 15 cans ordered in their online shop, they donate £25 to a pub, restaurant or retail outlet of the buyer's choice - supporting their stockists that can't open during lockdown. And, for the month of May, they are pledging to donate £10 to the Trussell Trust for every order over £70.

Who to follow on Instagram12 of 15
CREDIT: @julesvonhep


Celebrity spray tanner, body positivity icon and self-confessed 'Human Sunshine', Jules Von Hep simply brings the joy.

Who to follow on Instagram13 of 15
CREDIT: @BryonyGordon


Journalist and author Bryony Gordon is a long-time proponent of good mental health, and her feed is dedicated to reassuring words and relentless positivity.

Who to follow on Instagram14 of 15
CREDIT: @greceghanem


Microbiologist-turned-personal trainer Grece Ghanem found herself becoming an Instagram style icon, after brands and followers fell for her feed. The super-cool 50something rocks her white hair and spectacular wardrobe with the kind of attitude we wish you could bottle.

Who to follow on Instagram15 of 15
CREDIT: @sarashakeel


Instagram artist Sara Shakeel smothers everything with glitter, thus making it 100% more fun. Recently created a very special subscribers' cover for your favourite magazine.

Happy Reeling!

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